Day 5: Patagonia, AZ

March 7, 2021

Mile: 51.1

Once again, I didn’t sleep well last night. Ugh, and I went to bed so freaking exhausted! I’m pretty sure the pain in my knee is keeping me awake. Plus, it was a weird night. I started out cold and happily snuggled in my quilt, then I woke up sweating, then I was freezing! I called it quits around 4am and deflated my air mattress so I could sit up and make coffee. 

As I mentioned before, I deflate my air mattress before getting up because it makes too much noise if I move around on it while it’s inflated, and I don’t want to be inconsiderate of other nearby hikers who are trying to sleep. Also, if I don’t deflate my mattress first, my head always brushes the ceiling of my tent. It happened on the PCT with my Big Agnes and it happens now with my Zpacks Altaplex. The peak of the Altaplex is significantly higher than the highest point of the BA Copper Spur, but in order to avoid my head touching the sloping wall of the Altaplex, I have to lean over or scootch right up to the screen door. Ah, the joys of being tall! 

So anyway, I always deflate my air mattress before I sit up. After coffee and definitely not enough real food (because the plant protein mix I brought with me is super gross), I packed up and spent some time stretching inside my tent while waiting for Ghosthiker.

We were hiking by 6:15am, as soon as the sky was light enough to see by. I still ended up using my headlamp for a bit, though, just to be safe. My headlamp is like a million lumens strong and lights up the trail like a damn supernova, so Ghosthiker put me in the lead for the first leg of the day. I like to let her set the pace, usually. It keeps me from hiking faster than I ought to, especially on days like today when we’re going into town. It’s hard not to hike fast when hot, fresh town food and cold beer are calling my name. Combine that with a terrible habit of hiking through my pain, and you’ve got a recipe for injuries and other disasters. Ghosthiker, on the other hand, is a seasoned thru-hiking and knows how to set a good pace. 

We heard it was going to be especially hot today so we want to get into town before the heat of the day because there’s a nice stretch of road walking leading into Patagonia. The trail follows this road and goes directly through town but walking on the road in intense heat is always pretty rough on our feet, so we want to get it done with as soon as possible, preferably before noon.

Ghosthiker left her phone on while we hiked and as soon as we found cell service, she called the Stage Stop Inn in Patagonia to make a reservation. They had one room left! Phew!! We’d have been in a real pickle if they’d been full, since that’s the only motel in the area and there are no trail angels or AirBnB’s that we could find. 

We took a short break in some shade around mile 47.3. It’s barely 9:00am and it’s already hot as hell out here. So much for beating the heat to the road walk section, but thank God we’re going into town and can rest our feet then.

Closer to the road, we stopped and chatted with a lovely couple out for a day hike, Chuck and Sarah, who confirmed all the great things we’ve heard about Patagonia. They were a lovely couple, very friendly. 

The trail eventually took us to Harshaw Road Trailhead. Not even 10:00am and it is so, so hot. Ugh. Thankfully, it was only about 1.7 miles to town. We had cell service along the road so we spent time checking in with loved ones and looking at a little social media. Also, because it was a wide road, we walked side-by-side and were able to chat a lot, which is always nice. 

As you’re walking into Patagonia, the first place hikers like to visit is the Ovens of Patagonia bakery. Ghosthiker and I had been looking forward to this little place since we started at Montezuma Pass because we’d heard so many great things about all the tasty goodies they make fresh there. When we arrived, there was a huge line outside waiting to get in and they were only letting three people in at a time because of Covid. We didn’t mind waiting and were ready for a nice sit-down break, so we claimed a little patio table as soon as one became available in the shade and settled in to wait our turn.

When the crowd thinned a little, Ghosthiker went in to use the restroom and check out the available goodies while I stayed outside and watched our packs. Honestly, I was so tired already from lack of sleep and hiking in the heat that the thought of filling my stomach with baked goods wasn’t all that appealing to me just then, so I was happy to wait. People kept coming, though, and the inside of the bakery was so small that Ghosthiker felt bad going inside with all her funky hiker smell. Thinking we ought to shower first and then come back later, we shouldered our packs and trekked over to the hotel. 

Unfortunately, it was too early to check into our room, so we went to the Wild Horse Restaurant that’s a part of the hotel and made sure they had open patio seating before agreeing to be shown a table. We asked the nice hostess to seat us in the farthest corner so no one would be offended by our smell, then we took turns visiting the restroom and oh! What a joy to wash my hands and face in a real sink, with clean, flowing water and clean paper towels! Naturally, we indulged in burgers and beers even though it wasn’t even noon yet, and halfway through our meal we were joined by Sailor and Alfredo, who’d just gotten into town. They ordered themselves some drinks and we sat shooting the breeze for a while until it was time to check into our room. 

I’d forgotten how dry the air is here (I lived in Casa Grande, AZ for a while). My throat is in so much pain that no amount of water is fixing it. Once we got close to civilization and I got internet, I looked up some things I can procure in town that might help. 

Our room at the Stage Stop Inn is super cute. It’s on the second floor with a balcony facing the main road that runs through Patagonia, and from here we can see incoming and outgoing hikers, campers, and van-lifers. I parked myself in one of the patio chairs right outside our door and engaged in some people-watching while Ghosthiker showered, then she graciously took our dirty clothes to the washer while I took my turn showering. I only have rain gear to wear while our clothes wash and dry, which is a pain. I’m gonna need to do something about that. Definitely too freaking hot to be hanging out in stifling rain gear. I volunteered to babysit our laundry while Ghosthiker meandered back to the bakery, because time had flown by and apparently the bakery closes at, like, 3:00pm. She grabbed a couple goodies – all that was left in the display case – and brought them back. 

Ghosthiker and I decided early on that we’d take turns paying for things like accommodations, travel to/from town if we need to call an Uber, and other random purchases (like baked goods!), and that I would keep a running tab on my phone. We did things similarly on the PCT when Sparky was hiking with us. It worked out well then, so I hope it works well this time, too.

Patagonia is an adorable little town. We did all of our chores and then went to Velvet Pizza for dinner, then we ran into Sailor and Alfredo again at their van and met another hiker named Pulp Fiction, who is also having knee issues. 

I spent some time icing my knee in the hotel room, and now we’re going to bed at 7:00pm. Might take an early zero tomorrow. 

Day 6: 10 Good Miles

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at sarahhikes.com.

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